i can almost hear my mother’s incredulous laugh already. the part of me that lusts after rihanna’s bob is sobbing in a corner. my combs are once more running for their lives.
i’ve decided to go natural (again).
the universe has definitely been speaking to me and it’s about to time to listen. my hair has always been an integral part of my identity; my emotions are so closely entwined with it that it borders on obsessive compulsive. if i feel good about my hair, my mood is automatically heightened, and vice versa. i’ve put it through so, so much–consistent relaxing to inconsistent relaxing, cornrows, box braids, ponytails, flat twists, kinky twists, hot combing, weave, weave, weave. when i left home in september it was permed under my twists… when i went back home i took them out and came back to england with a fresh perm and weave… now i’m back to twists and relishing the feel of soft new growth when i put my fingers in my scalp. i’m not as willing as i once was to part with that.
i truly believe this is much more of an emotional journey than a physical one. i remember being five years old and seeing white and latino girls with long, flowing hair and grumpily asking why i always had to have my hair braided, with bubbles and clips and rubber bands. i remember being so happy when a clip would ‘accidentally fall out’ during recess and my braid would come out, affording me a few blissful hours of hair swinging freedom before my mother’s hawk eye caught it. i remember being jealous of my best friend for having hair a few inches longer than mine when we got perms together (though, of course, looking back at pictures, my hair was long!). i remember the sheer terror at having to cut off all my hair in eighth grade when it became impossibly tangled and damaged from constant braiding. i remember the fierce sense of pride and appreciation for my full, thick afro. i remember the rapid switch to frustration and anger when yet another one of my combs snapped into pieces in my hand. i remember the conflicting senses of betrayal and relief when i got my hair relaxed again. and so on and so on and so on. but i’m twenty years old now, twenty one in two short months. something’s gotta give.
i am fully aware of the fact that i’ve been, in a sense, brainwashed to revere european beauty. lighter skin, straighter hair, smaller features. in some ways i fear this stigma that i’ve grown up with will never truly leave me, but as of today, yet again, and hopefully for the last time, i’m embracing what i was born with — coarse hair and all. i’m choosing nature over artificiality; maintenance over convenience. my beauty over someone else’s. i don’t want to chemically process my hair anymore, i don’t want to damage my hair anymore. this is going to be difficult, but i feel it’s something i have to do. not only for me, either. someday i want my children to know their mother is proud of her heritage and unwilling to conform to the standard european conventions of beauty. black — and yes, nappy — is beautiful, damn it!
here i go!